from the putting-the-con-in-foxconn dept
In 2017 the Wisconsin GOP, with Donald Trump and Paul Ryan at the head of the parade, struck what they claimed was an incredible deal with Foxconn to bring thousands of high paying jobs to the state. The project, which Trump dubbed the “the eighth wonder of the world,” provided the former president with several years’ worth of endless free marketing for his “job creation” skills.
Except it was complete bullshit.
Initially, the state gave Foxconn a $3 billion subsidy and numerous tax breaks in exchange for a promised $10 billion investment into a Wisconsin LCD panel plant that would create 13,000 jobs. Over time the project consistently got smaller and smaller, with a rotating crop of excuses and a steady stream of bizarre denials that anything was wrong.
The Verge did consistently great reporting dissecting Foxconn and the GOP’s bullshit and the stream of ever-shifting and usually hollow promises. My personal favorite was when the company just threw “AI,” 5G and 8K into an incoherent jumble just to try and sound innovative:
“The enormous “Gen 10.5” LCD factory specified in the contract became a far smaller Gen 6, then was canceled, then came back. The company announced it was building something called “the AI+8K+5G ecosystem,” to be developed in a network of “innovation centers,” buildings that the company purchased only to leave empty. It looked into building fish farms, exporting ice cream, storing boats. It announced plans to build coffee kiosks and ventilators that never moved forward.”
Ultimately a 2021 deal dramatically shrunk FoxConn’s investment to $672 million with 1,454 promised new jobs (that have yet to fully materialize). Though Wisconsin had already spent at least $400 million on land and infrastructure, and Mount Pleasant took on hundreds of millions in debt. Foxconn does currently produce some servers and solar array tech in the area, but it’s a far, far cry from what was promised.
And the project is still shrinking.
Now, Foxconn tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the company is selling two of the key buildings it was supposed to be using to build “innovation centers.” Buildings that The Verge had consistently noted were sitting empty and unused for years, something Foxconn repeatedly and strangely tried to deny:
“You might recall two of these buildings, in Eau Claire and Green Bay, because The Verge’s Josh Dzieza went and looked in the windows months after they were purchased and noticed they were empty. This groundbreaking reporting prompted Foxconn’s Alan Yeung to say that the buildings were not empty at an event celebrating the purchase of yet another building in Madison. That building has never been occupied by Foxconn, and two of its floors are now for lease, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.”
Oddly the “AI+8K+5G ecosystem,” like most of the promised jobs — or any accountability for the politicians that created this hollow turd of a business deal — is still nowhere to be found.